Greek statue stares in amazement at digital rhetoric on a Mac laptop screen

The Transformative Power of Digital Technology in the Study of Rhetoric

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Digital technology has had a profound impact on our daily lives, changing the way we communicate and interact with each other. But it has also transformed the study of rhetoric, one of the oldest and most foundational disciplines of human communication. In this blog post, we will explore how digital technology has shaped the study of rhetoric, and why it is an essential area of research in the 21st century.

Expanding the Scope of Rhetoric

According to Doug Eyman, digital technology has expanded the scope of rhetoric beyond traditional verbal and written forms. Eyman argues that, “digital technology has made it possible for messages to be communicated through a much wider range of media and modes, such as images, audio, video, and social media.” This expansion has made it possible for us to study a wider range of communication practices and to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the ways in which messages are produced, distributed, and received.

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Democratizing Rhetoric

In the past, access to media and the means of production were limited to a select few, but digital technology has changed all that. Eyman states that, “digital technology has made it possible for anyone with access to the internet to be a producer of content and to reach a global audience.” This shift has made rhetoric more democratic, allowing for a wider range of voices to participate in public discourse and to shape our understanding of the world.

New Avenues for Research

The study of rhetoric has also been transformed by the rise of big data, machine learning, and algorithmic decision-making. As Eyman notes, “we now have a deeper understanding of how messages are spread and how they influence our thoughts, feelings, and actions.” This has led to the development of new subfields within rhetoric, such as digital rhetoric and computational rhetoric, which focus specifically on the study of digital communication and persuasion.

Conclusion

Digital technology has had a profound impact on the study of rhetoric, transforming it in ways that were previously unimaginable. By embracing the opportunities and challenges posed by digital technology, the field of rhetoric continues to evolve and remain relevant in the 21st century. As Eyman states, “the study of rhetoric has always been about understanding the ways in which messages are communicated and received, and digital technology has only expanded the scope of this important discipline.


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